Tuesday, January 24, 2023

"If we'd fully understood this, we may never have approved it!"

Back when we first decided we really wanted to move to Logan, I think some part of me sort of thought some fairy dust would twinkle down on the land and poof--there we would be! All settled in our new spot!

It turns out, surprise surprise, that it was not going to occur with a sprinkling of fairy dust and a snap of fingers. 

There have been so many unforeseen requirements and obstacles in this process of trying to get the Pea Viner land build-ready that when I try to lay them out clearly to those who ask, they jumble together in my head until I hardly know what on earth I am talking about. I start hearing myself say foreign words like: "storm water runoff", "land disturbance", "water rights", "road shoulder", etc; and the more I try to explain, the more I begin to feel like I am speaking rocket science--without ever having learned it myself. (You know the old saying: "this isn't rocket science". Well, I think building on Cache county land might actually be rocket science.) 

Even so, enough has been accomplished, that Mike and are getting to the point in this "move to the farm" business where, if it is really ever going to be, we need to start making some pretty big decisions about when to sell (and what to sell), how to fund things and the best way to do it, and where to go in the time between selling and completing the checklist of demands before beginning to build. There are various options, all of them a little overwhelming, and each with their own set of risks, sacrifices and stresses; and each with the potential to impact our ten children in a host of varied ways.

I recently attended a presentation on the Salt Lake City temple renovation given by the project manager himself. (The whole business was pretty fascinating: the jack and bore method [where men are literally digging by shovel to get these giant pipes under the temple], the 5,670 stones that have had to be removed, repaired, catalogued and put back, the extreme measures that must be taken to support every part of the temple while they work on any other part, and, of course, the 98 base isolaters that the temple will eventually rest on that can move five horizontal feet in any direction. [Look up some videos of the SLC temple renovation if you want to find yourself awed and intrigued by construction ingenuity. There were so many things that hadn't even occurred to me would need to be considered! Nothing was simple! Like, for example, the fact that one can't simply dig down around the temple lower than the initial foundation. With all that supportive earth removed, the 187 million pound temple would crash down and squeeze out the square of earth remaining underneath.])

At one point he shared a list of all the things that have extended the original four-year renovation plan. Covid of course, (along with an earthquake), but also things with the foundation that were discovered to be in a different situation than the information they had (uncovering and understanding various obstacles those pioneers encountered in trying to build this magnificent, sacred building without the means we have at our disposal), and new direction from the first presidency to preserve things they hadn't originally planned to preserve, add rooms they had not originally planned to add (for example there will be two baptistries in the Salt Lake temple), etc.

He showed us some of the pictures that were shown to the first presidency and apostles at one meeting and said how one of them jokingly commented something like, "If we'd fully understood this, we may never have approved it!"

I chuckled at that relatable little comment. In my own little way I've experienced it not just in this move, but in nearly every aspect of mortality! "If I'd had any idea what this would actually entail, I might never have dared agree to any of it!"

On the other hand, there is also the truth expressed so well by Ammon after their 14-year mission to the Lamanites where many times their "hearts were depressed" and they were "about to turn back":

At the end of it all, Ammon looks back through the challenges, heartache and misery and exclaims, "How great reason have we to rejoice; for could we have supposed when we started ... that God would have granted unto us such great blessings? ... Blessed be the name of God; let us sing to his praise. ... My heart is brim with joy."

That's the more sure truth I know. Even with all the things that feel a thousand times messier and more difficult than we expected (anyone ever decided to be a parent for example?) and even when mortal parts of me want to "turn back" and complain, "This was not what I signed up for!", I still do know that, in truth, I can't possibly imagine all the blessings and growth and gains that are coming from all of it. And I’ve already experienced much of the awe and wonder over my own lengthy list of blessings I never might have guessed were coming as I embarked on paths of my own.

Thinking of the temple renovations and all of these tied thoughts reminds me a little of that C.S. Lewis quote--what is it? Something about assuming Christ is coming in to do a little gentle remodeling, and then feeling rather shocked when suddenly walls are being knocked down and stairways pulled out, but eventually realizing its because he isn't making you into a simple cottage, rather a castle. 

And also the lines from "Come, Come, Ye Saints" that came to me on a night of great anxiety when I was expecting my ninth (and would have three children under age three--along with the six others):

"Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard? 'Tis not so; all is right. Why should we think to earn a great reward if we now shun the fight?"

It's not that He wouldn't like to give them to us of course--all the great rewards. It's that we simply cannot receive all the blessings, and connectings, and becoming, and gains, and marvelous new understandings and perspectives without the journey. And I'm grateful to be on it!

Romans 8:18
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Pictures of Starling in the Window Plus a Few Words

There's something delicate about her hands--her slender, little fingers; for all their graceful length, still nothing but small. I admire them now as much as I ever did when I would slide my index finger, marveling, into her tiny newborn grasp. Though back then, of course, she didn't have a scratch on her index finger, sparkly, blue paint--the remnants of some creative endeavor--smudged here and there across her left hand, and a faint red stamp on her right. ("What's this?" I ask her--trying to make out the image on the stamp. "It's just nuffing," she responds.)

At the moment she's stretched out on my lap--examining my own hands with her small ones. She extends my fingers open in front of her and begins twisting my wedding ring round and round in its eternal loop, eventually stopping with the diamond turned in towards the palm side of my hand. I twist it back. Then she twists it again. We repeat this for a few moments before I pretend my diamond has gone missing; then feign surprise to discover it where she'd last turned it on the underside of my finger.

Then she moves on--asking about some dried blood in a split on my knuckle, and examining my other fingers with mild curiosity. 

"Is this your pinky fum?" she asks me--pulling on my thumb.

"That's just my thumb," I tell her. "This smaller one is my pinky."

"I just want to call it your pinky fum," she says with finality.

She lets me do her hair now. For the entirety of her life it has been a battle not worth fighting. Then one day, about two weeks ago, she held her hair up and over the crown of her head, pondered for a moment then said, "Mom, I want necklace hair." And now, nearly every morning, she agrees to ponytails, braids, or "necklace hair". With this surprising turn of events one might even dare hope she'll be open to wearing one or two things other than ... the one or two she wears.

I love this little Starling bird of ours. 

The End.

Monday, January 16, 2023

The second person to tell me that today.

Just in case you didn't already know what a stinker I married:

Yesterday Mike came out of our walk-in closet just as I was going in. We paused for a brief hug, and I kissed him on the cheek a few times. "I miss your beard," I said, "but I like being able to kiss your face."

Without missing a beat Mike replied, "You're the second person to tell me that today."

Hansie had a birthday. 6. I like when Summer, Mette and Hans have their ages all lined up in a row. (They are currently 6, 7, and 8.) It's a miraculous way for me to see the passage of time--that little triplet of numbers shifting ever upward from 1, 2, and 3 to 3, 4, and 5 to 6, 7 and 8.

I love the 3D printed gift Jesse gave to Hans. It's a little egg you open with a miniature car carrier inside. The wheels even turn!

Speaking of Jesse. ... (You may recall my mentioning that our computer area will never be appearing in any home decor magazines. At least not as long as Jesse lives in our home.) Here he sits with the extra monitor for his raspberry pi, his 3D printer, and a bunch of miscellaneous electronic parts. 

Nearly every day I grumpily call out (to any child who might be within earshot--even though I know they won't listen) something like, "Someone toss Shasta outside!" or "Someone put Biscuit out!" and "These are outside cats! They don't need to be inside!" (They have heated pads and a heated tiny cat house out there for crying out loud!) 

And every day I find them like this:

Abe finally had a successful ice-climbing day with Devin and Melissa. It was particularly exciting for him as the county's entire search and rescue team happened to be out doing training exercises nearby. Abe thought it felt adventurous having a helicopter hovering--wind from its propellers whipping in your face--feet from where he was climbing. And I thought ... it seemed a pretty safe way to have my son practice ice-climbing: with all the people best equipped to rescue him right nearby.

Dais and Gold came home for the long weekend. They took the kids sledding at the park. And then took them to the store to pick out Valentine's. Such good sisters. These little kids don't even know how novel it is to have older siblings to take them on adventures. They just think it's normal! (I know because I grew up with the same good fortune. And it never occurred to me that it was a pretty unique and lucky way to grow up.) (But why isn't Goldie in the picture???)

I like these little feet just kicking up on me while I journal:

And this little face--squished to sleep in my arms:

And these people coloring on my bed. (But aaahh! A cat again!)

And this little girl staring thoughtfully outside as she eats a go-gurt:

And ... all of the rest of these things:
(Penny took these pictures of Starling and Hans.)
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